|Born||1960 (age 56–57)
|Alma mater||Miami Dade College
|Notable work(s)||Two Sisters and a Piano|
|Magnum opus||Anna in the Tropics|
|Awards||Pulitzer Prize for Drama (2003)|
Cruz was born to Tina and Nilo Cruz, Sr. in Matanzas, Cuba. The family immigrated to the "Little Havana" in Miami, Florida in 1970 on a Freedom Flight, and eventually naturalised to the United States. His interest in theater began with acting and directing in the early 1980s. He studied theater first at Miami-Dade Community College, later moving to New York City, where Cruz studied under fellow Cuban María Irene Fornés. Fornes recommended Cruz to Paula Vogel who was teaching at Brown University where he would later receive his M.F.A. in 1994.
In 2001, Cruz served as the playwright-in-residence for the New Theatre in Coral Gables, Florida, where he wrote Anna in the Tropics, winner of the 2003 Pulitzer and the Steinberg Award for Best New Play. A year later it received its Broadway premiere with Jimmy Smits in the lead role.
Some of the theatres that have developed and performed his works include New York’s Public Theater, New York Theatre Workshop, Pasadena Playhouse, McCarter Theatre, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, The Alliance, New Theatre, Florida Stage and the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
Cruz has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including two NEA/TCG National Theatre Artist Residency grants, a Rockefeller Foundation grant, San Francisco's W. Alton Jones award, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays award and a USA Artist Fellowship.
Cruz is a frequent collaborator with Peruvian-American Latin Grammy composer Gabriela Lena Frank. To date, they have completed a set of orchestral songs, La centinela y la paloma (The Keeper and the Dove), for soprano Dawn Upshaw and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra (premiered under the baton of Joana Carneiro in February 2011); The Saint Maker for soprano Jessica Rivera, mezzo-soprano Rachel Calloway, the San Francisco Girls Chorus, and the Berkeley Symphony in May 2013; and Journey of the Shadow for narrator and ensemble of eleven players (San Francisco Chamber Orchestra premiering in April 2013.
Cruz's most recent work is Bathing in Moonlight, a world premiere featuring Raul Mendez, Priscilla Lopez, Hannia Guillen, Frankie J. Alvarez, Michael Rudko, and Katty Velasquez. Directed by Emily Mann (who also directed the world premiere of Cruz's Anna in the Tropics), Bathing in Moonlight is running September 9 - October 9, 2016 at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. Bathing in Moonlight is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and a 2016 Greenfield Prize.
Awards and honors
In 2009, Cruz received the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a distinguished American playwright in mid-career.
- Dancing on Her Knees (1994)
- Night Train to Bolina (1995)
- A Park in Our House (1995)
- Two Sisters and a Piano (1998)
- A Bicycle Country (1999)
- Hortensia and the Museum of Dreams (2001)
- Anna in the Tropics (2002)
- Lorca in a Green Dress (2003)
- Capricho (2003)
- Beauty of the Father (2006)
- The Color of Desire (2010)
- Hurricane (2010)
- Soto Voce (2014)
- Bathing in Moonlight (2016)
- Havana – music by Frank Wildhorn, lyrics by Jack Murphy, book by Cruz
- A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings – a children's play that is an adaptation of a short story by Gabriel García Márquez
- Doña Rosita the Spinster – by Federico García Lorca
- The House of Bernarda Alba – by Federico García Lorca
- Life is a Dream – by Pedro Calderón de la Barca
- Nilo Cruz at the Internet Broadway Database
- Nilo Cruz at the Internet Movie Database
- Nilo Cruz at the Internet Off-Broadway Database
- Nilo Cruz Interview by Beth Stevens on Broadway.com
- New Plays And Playwrights – Working in the Theatre Seminar video at American Theatre Wing.org, January 2004
- Bomb magazine interview
- Articles about Nilo Cruz and Life is a Dream at South Coast Repertory